Portal to match foreign workers with urgent jobs

Construction bosses can pick from among work permit holders nearing the end of their contracts

Intercorp business and product development consultant Kelvin Koh (right, in white shirt) demonstrating how the Foreign Construction Worker Directory System works to BCA chairman Quek See Tiat (second from right) and Scal president Kenneth Loo (third from right) at the BuildTech Asia conference on Oct 13, 2015. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Construction bosses will get easier access to a pool of trained foreign workers with a new online directory that matches their requirements with work permit holders reaching the end of their contracts in Singapore.

Contractors in urgent need of experienced workers can find matches through the portal, where foreign workers whose permits are about to expire can register, indicating their skill sets and experience.

The Foreign Construction Worker Directory System was launched yesterday by the Singapore Contractors Association (Scal) at regional trade show BuildTech Asia.

The site was developed by solutions provider Intercorp Solutions and supported by the Manpower Ministry and the Infocomm Development Authority.

Scal president Kenneth Loo said that one in three work permit holders leaves Singapore for his home country after two years, a figure Scal aims to reduce.

He said: "It will mean a reduction in recruitment time, saving on repatriation costs and better matching of workers to meet project needs."

According to Scal, the portal also gives the workers the opportunity to remain in Singapore without a lapse in earnings or having to pay high recruitment fees to agents.

Ms Lee Bee Wah, an MP for Nee Soon GRC and an engineer by training, called the directory a "timely" measure to retain existing foreign workers. "The learning curve for these workers is minimal as they have experience of Singapore, so straightaway they can be productive," she said.

More than 1,000 workers have signed up so far for the directory, which cost more than $200,000 to develop.

It can be downloaded as an app onto smartphones, or accessed at www.fcwds.com.sg.

Membership is free but workers have to pay a registration fee of $15 to be considered for jobs during the 90-day window before their permits expire.

Upon a successful match with an employer, they must pay $150. Employers pay an annual subscription fee of $2,000.

Mr Edward Wee, 55, managing director of scaffolding and construction firm Wee Chwee Huat, estimated the new portal could save him about a third of the time usually taken to hire a worker, which he normally does through third-party agents.

Intercorp director Sam Tay said they hope to get about 6,000 workers on board in the next year.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2015, with the headline Portal to match foreign workers with urgent jobs. Subscribe